By: Samuel Dasilva
So you want to build lean muscle and burn stubborn body fat but you’re struggling with how to do both. It’s actually quite simple! If you lower your calorie intake, weight train and perform exercises that target the cardio vascular system, the results will soon come. The difficult part is finding out the most efficient way to do both while maintaining a comfortable and healthy lifestyle. A mixture of resistance weight training coupled with low to moderate steady state cardio is the key to achieving that lifestyle and here are some reasons why.
Whether you have been working out for 10 years or 10 weeks your body requires the same amount of recovery time. Putting your body through intense training sessions is necessary for growth and progress in terms of muscle size and shape. If you are training a muscle group you should allow at least 24-48 hours of recovery time before training it again. This allows protein synthesis to take place which in turn allows that muscle group to fully repair. When it comes to cardio, the rules for recovery are the same. If you are always trying to get in and out of the gym, you might resort to high intensity interval training (HIIT) cardio. This type of cardio is great and can be extremely beneficial for targeting fat loss but doing HIIT multiple times a week in combination with weight training can leave your body worn out and your central nervous system weak. Implementing low intensity steady state cardio will allow you to burn a similar amount of calories while giving your muscles the proper time to recover. Low intensity cardio does not tap into your central nervous system nearly as much as HIIT cardio does meaning your body will require much less recovery time. Giving yourself a 30-45 minute window after a workout to do low intensity cardio is more beneficial in the long run and will allow for more intense workouts with less recovery time in between.
Keeping up with it
Most people think that walking on a treadmill or a Stairmaster for 30-45 minutes won’t satisfy their need for fat burning and cardiovascular training. So they resort to high but short intensity cardio sessions. Although this might seem like the way to go initially, it can quickly catch up with you. When starting something new, be it a diet or gym routine, it is always about starting slow and making sure your goals are attainable. Telling yourself to do HIIT 4-5 times week is not something that the average individual can maintain for long. Doing 2-3 days a week of low intensity cardio is a much more reasonable way to start. Stressing yourself less while burning a similar amount of calories is a sure way to keep your program on track and your progress moving in a linear fashion.
When in a state of a caloric deficit coupled with a weight training and cardiovascular exercise program, your body is put under severe stress. Lifting weights anywhere between 30 minutes and an hour will stimulate your muscles enough to cause growth. When you burn more calories than you take in, your energy expenditure levels are going to be lower than normal. Maximizing your weight training is essential in keeping the most muscle mass on your frame while dieting. Doing high intensity cardio will hinder muscle growth due to the level of stress it puts on your muscles as well as your joints. Being able to give it your all in the gym is what will keep your motivation up and your muscles strong. Implementing low intensity cardio will burn unwanted fat in time and leave you ready to push harder the next time you’re in the gym even in a caloric deficit.
By: Jason Iadisernia
When meeting a client for the first time, my initial question is always “What is your goal?” The response is usually the same: “I want to lose weight” or “I want to tone up.” It seems that people are generally more concerned with altering their body image than anything else. Although this is an important goal, should it really be your number one goal? As a trainer, my intentions are to help clients achieve their best physical potential and improve their overall quality of life. This means that “toning up” may not be what’s best for every client. Sure, this could boost your confidence and make you look great but will you necessarily be the best person you can be physically?
Helping my clients reach their physical potential means I focus on improving their functional fitness above all else. So what is functional fitness? In short, it is training that will improve your ability to perform everyday activities. A bicep curl may make your arm look great and give you a nice pump but it isolates only one muscle group and it is an unnatural movement that does not prepare your body for real world activities. So if you can’t put these newly gained muscles to work, then what were you really training for? This means the functionality of your training is limited. The goal should be to use your muscles, not just look at them.
A functional fitness routine emphasizes multi-joint movements and exercises in multiple planes of motion. Training your body in such a way conditions you to perform everyday movements more efficiently. Because of this, professional athletes, the military, police and firefighters are all trained with high intensity routines that focus on functional fitness.
Here are several reasons why emphasizing functionality in your training is important:
Performing multi-joint movements means you are targeting more muscle groups at once. If you recruit more muscle groups simultaneously, your body will naturally be able to do more work as far as weight load, making you feel stronger.
Can you ever recall having a “freak accident” where you sustained an injury like throwing your back out while lifting something off the ground? What if I told you that there was nothing accidental about it? The reality is that your body is not properly conditioned to perform those everyday tasks resulting in a serious injury. Functional fitness is built around the concept of training to perform these tasks.
We are now living longer than ever before. It's important that with these added years we ensure our overall quality of life because as we age we tend to lose some functionality. According to The Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, there is a positive correlation between functional fitness and good health in older adults. Some areas of improvement included balance, agility, aerobic endurance, muscle strength and even mental health!
Functional exercise programs provide you with concepts of constant variation. This is basically interval training using a variety of equipment such as barbells, sandbags, or stones (anything you can pick up!) This keeps the body guessing while avoiding adaptation. On top of this, constant variations keep you mentally stimulated because every workout will be different and unique!
Change is on the Way
Your body will thank you in the end in more ways than one. Not only will you feel stronger but you will also look great! Taking part in functional exercise programs at high intensities will cause the muscle to grow in different areas which will burn more calories. This is an efficient way to look and feel better than ever before!
By: Maria Acosta
New Year’s resolutions are in full swing and that means setting goals for how we hope to better ourselves over the next year. According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, only 9.2% of people felt they achieved their New Year’s resolutions in 2016. Don’t be a statistic! Here are 10 tips that will help you achieve your fitness goals.
By: Paulina Dedaj
Fitness is in. At least that’s what the latest in data research and analysis tells us. In 2014 over 54 million Americans were paying for a gym membership and the average gym-goer visited their club over 100 times a year. With this promise to get in the gym more comes the promise to eat right. Include more lean proteins in your diet. Eat more fruit. Avoid fats. Right? Some of these popular trends may actually be more harmful than helpful when looking at the nutritional value behind them.
Grocery store shelves are filled with low fat and fat free products. They promise the same great taste but without any of the guilt. Products with fat modified content seem like an important staple of any weight loss diet. We often associate fat, any fat, with weight gain but that is a common misconception that often leads to more weight gain.
When you buy a yogurt that is low fat or fat free, surprisingly it still tastes good. That’s because the fat is replaced with added processed sugar. This can actually cause weight gain. Unlike natural sugar (fructose) which is broken down more slowly by the body with the help of fiber, processed or refined sugars raise our blood sugar levels. This causes us to crave more sugars and carbohydrates. So next time you’re tempted to grab that fat free yogurt, remember you might be hindering your weight loss journey.
Eating the right types of fat is an important part of maintaining a well-rounded diet. Good fats can be major source of energy for your body that help to support cell growth and organ protection. So what is a healthy fat?
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are considered to be healthy fats. Some sources of monounsaturated fats include olive oil, peanut oil and avocados. These foods have been linked to lower rates of heart disease in regions where they a main part of everyday diets. Polyunsaturated fats are considered essential fats that are needed for the body to function normally. Because your body can’t produce this type of fat on its own, it’s important that we consume enough of it. These fats also help to lower the harmful type of cholesterol, Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol, and have even been linked to protecting against heart disease.
Now what types fat should you avoid? Trans fats are a four-letter word in the health world. In fact, there are no known health benefits of trans fats. Foods rich in trans fats increase the harmful type of cholesterol in the bloodstream and can dramatically increase your chances of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. That means putting down the Big Macs and chicken nuggets.
Your body needs fats but healthy fats! Avoid the low fat or fat free products because you may be worse off with all the processed sugar. It’s important to read the nutrition labels to figure out what types of fat you are consuming. Add more avocados, olive oil, salmon and coconut oil to your diet to ensure you’re getting the good fats. A closer attention to the nutritional value of the food you eat will help you achieve a healthy and well balanced diet.
By: WAYNE ANTON
I don’t know about you but I can’t wait for 2017! Sure, you could argue that it’s just another day. Just another Saturday fading into Sunday. But I choose to see it a different way and millions of people around the world agree. The new year means a few things. It inspires hope for new, exciting and prosperous ventures but also presents new difficulties and fears of the unknown. The way most people see it, it gives them a chance at a fresh start, and who doesn’t like that idea.
We always say, “Hindsight is 20/20,” and, “If I only knew then what I know now.” Well now is now and no time will ever be now again, so go get it. Do you get it now? I think some people don’t like the concept of the new year because they dislike the people that abuse it. You see the same people, year after year, declare, “This is the year of the new and improved me.” “The year I get skinnier.” “The year I stop smoking cigarettes.” “The year I stop living in my parent’s basement.” But don’t blame the person, blame society and the culture and era we live in. Or don’t blame anybody but yourself for your decisions. Hey, now there’s a novel idea. Maybe, just maybe you, and only you, can improve your life and you don’t NEED any arbitrary day to do it, but hey, if it helps then I'm all for it.
I am wholeheartedly in favor of the completely fictitious yet symbolical passing of an old day into a "New Year". How or when a person decides they want to grow and evolve their physical, mental, or emotional well-being is not up for my judgement. So, I always advocate for a person to choose a great new year’s resolution but please stick to it. Don’t be a repeat offender. Set a goal, crush it, and set a new one. It’s one of those easier said than done deals. I get it, but sometimes there’s nothing to it but to do it. I think a smart, sexy, famous person once said that… or not. Either way, if you are going to use 2017 as an excuse to get better, live longer, and be happier then follow some sage advice. Or don’t, and re-read this again next year.
- Eat healthy... most of the time. What I mean by that is treat your body like the work of art and piece of machinery that you are. Your body needs water. So, drink it. Lots of it. Going to the bathroom a lot just means more breaks from work and I never heard anybody complain about that. The Institute of Medicine recommends a total daily water intake of 3.7 liters (15 cups) for the average adult man and 2.7 liters (11 cups) for the average adult woman (1). Though, don’t forget that water is also found in abundance in the other liquids and foods we take in throughout the day. Eat more whole foods, vegetables, and lean meats than you do cupcakes, cookies, and donuts. It’s not rocket science. But, I did say most of the time, not all the time. I get it; a steamed kale and flax seed smoothie isn’t quite as delicious as that Dairy Queen Oreo Blizzard but one literally clogs your arteries and the other is kale. Get it? Moderation is key. I won’t go into too much detail but in case you were unsure sugar affects your brain in a very similar way to how heroin does. Yes, that heroin. Junk foods and sugar flood the reward system with dopamine, particularly a brain area called the Nucleus accumbens, which is strongly implicated in addiction (2). It’s a little white rock what did you expect? So just know that the hangry feeling you get when you've gone more than three hours without a Milky Way it’s not you, it’s your addiction and you are the victim. Or are you? I'm not saying it'll be easy but take it from someone who thought candy was at the base of food pyramid for the first 15 years of his life: you will feel unbelievably better without it, I promise. But what about fruits? Don’t they have sugars? Sure, so do most vegetables but are you really going to sit here and argue about which is healthier; a pineapple or a fruit snack gummy bear shaped like a pineapple? Great now that we've taken care of that let’s move on.
- Exercise... the end. No but seriously, move. Just move. More than you sit. I don’t know the exact ratio of moving to sitting you need to be healthy but let’s just assume it’s not too difficult to achieve. If you're not a gym person, then you need to find other ways to challenge yourself. Go for a hike, rock climb, run, bike, take a Zumba class, try yoga or Pilates, play sports, garden, take up lumberjacking, etc. etc. Although ideally, I prefer to lift weights and perform one or several of those activities on any given day I also know our busy schedules don’t allow for such tomfoolery when there’s work to be done. Which is even more of a reason to make time for it. You spend 8 hours a day working to achieve someone else’s goals and eight hours a day sleeping and dreaming of your own but you can’t spend 30-60 minutes a few days a week on bettering yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally? It is recommended the average adult get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of both. The guidelines suggest that you spread out this exercise during a week. As well as strength training exercises for all major muscle groups at least two times a week. Aim to do at least one set of several different exercises, using a weight or resistance level heavy enough to tire your muscles after about 12 to 15 repetitions (3). We have unimaginably strong and resilient shells when we take care of them, otherwise they become weak and frail if we don’t. Exercise is that difference maker. So, I don’t care how you get it done just do it. Hmm, Nike may have something there.
- Sleep. As much as you can. Unless you’re a teenager in which case wake up and go be active or read something. I say as much as you can because even if you could it still probably wouldn’t be enough. In all seriousness sleep is one of, if not, the most important things your body needs to stay healthy. You can survive three weeks without food. You'll lose a bunch of weight, mostly muscle mass which isn’t great, but that’s not the point. Try three weeks without sleep and tell me how you feel. I need a solid six hours to function, seven to act civil and eight to perform a task efficiently. Any more than that and I feel I'm wasting precious minutes I could be using to better myself, physically, mentally, and emotionally. There’s a theme here in case you hadn’t noticed yet. So, although factors such as age play a role, it is recommended a healthy adult get anywhere between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. Individuals who habitually sleep outside the normal range may exhibit signs or symptoms of serious health problems or, if done voluntarily, may be compromising their health and well-being (4).
- Find a companion; of the animal kind. I don’t believe in using the phrase "owning an animal" because I have dogs and they aren’t my slaves that I keep locked up outside. They are a part of my family and they give more love in one day than most humans give their entire lives. The complete and total unconditional love an animal gives to you is unlike any feeling you will ever get from anything or anybody else in this world. I also don’t get how people can say they don’t like animals. What’s not to like? I’d rather a dog lick my face than a person talk behind my back. Going back to grade school if we counted the number of animals that did me wrong compared to the number of humans, let’s just say animals win by a landslide victory. If you’re unsure about the whole idea of caring for another living being, then start with something small, like a goldfish. Something so small and seemingly insignificant but relies on you to feed him and clean his water bowl to survive could end up eventually winning over your heart. Then when you've graduated to cats and dogs and other companion animals, you will truly understand the love I speak of. And why does any of this matter? Because after a long day of waking up early, but also late because your alarm clock didn’t go off, cutting yourself while rushing to shave, getting a flat tire on the way to work, having a bad day at work, then almost getting into an accident after work you just want to come home, relax, and unwind (maybe cry a little, I get it). But I promise you, there’s no better greeting than when your little buddy who hasn’t seen you in eight hours (which is about eight years in dog perception) sees you walk through that door. I dare you not to smile and reach for their embrace to soften the hardships of the day. Evidence reviewed by the American Heart Association indicates that dog owners are more likely to exercise, have a better cholesterol profile, have lower blood pressure, be less vulnerable to the physical effects of stress, and be more likely to survive a heart attack (5). So, you want to live a longer, happier, healthier life; find an animal companion.
Now at this point last year I’ll be the first to admit that 2015 wasn’t my best year. Physically, I became too lazy to prepare my meals so I started eating an unhealthy amount of unhealthy foods. The outcome; I felt like crap (big surprise). I hadn’t missed that much time away from the gym since before I started going to a gym 16 years earlier, but I had reasons (excuses): I moved out of my childhood house, I started a new job, and I started a business so I was too busy to take care of myself. That cannot happen. Your health is paramount above all else because you can’t give out more than you make and if you don’t make enough for yourself then you'll have nothing to offer anybody else. But there was always next year.
Mentally, I was barely hanging in there towards the end. 2015 proved to show some puzzling times that took my mind some time to put together. Friends and family gone too soon. Goals gone unaccomplished. Knowledge went unlearned. Places went untraveled. I was not happy, but there was always next year.
Emotionally, I’d say I was somewhere between Al Gore and Kim Kardashian but my spirits were unwavering because that’s something you buildup over the years. It’s what gets you through the tough times beyond all the physical and mental stress and anxiety. Both the positive and negative experiences that help mold and sharpen that strong resilient core. So, I dusted myself off and like millions of people around the world I said, "There’s always next year!"
So, that’s what I did and that story is for another day but I didn’t exactly develop any new information here, brew the elixir of life, or stumble upon the fountain of youth. What I have done is built a strong body, a sound mind, a stable sentiment, and a vivacious spirit, which helps me overcome any obstacles placed before me. So, if that obstacle is poor health change your diet, exercise regimen, or sleep patterns. Or just one. Or all of them. It’s trial and error. Just don’t stop trying. If that obstacle is a difficult task at work, think critically, and, if necessary, swallow your pride and ask for advice to solve the problem. If that obstacle is an emotional roller coaster that makes The Superman seem like a kiddie ride, throw your hands in the air and scream it out until it’s over (hypothetically speaking of course). And if that obstacle attempts to damage or deconstruct your spirit, try to remember how truly lucky you are to be alive right now. How many friends and family members love you. How (relatively) young and sprite you are. How you must always thirst for knowledge of self as well as the universe. 2017 is coming whether you like it or not so buckle up, hold tight, and don’t get bucked off the wild bronco that is life.
By: Ilya Avdeyenkov
With the New Year approaching, many of us are going to make the same resolution: lose some weight! But instead of focusing on simply looking better, losing weight has many benefits aside from a smaller waist.
A healthy diet can dramatically improve your overall health. But with so many diets available, how do you know which one is best for you?
Recent studies have focused on the benefits of plant-based diets. Increasing and varying your intake of vegetables has shown to lower your risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and even some types of cancer.
Arguably, the biggest risk of these is high blood pressure. According to the World Health Organization, high blood pressure is the number one risk factor for death in the world. About 75 million American adults suffers from high blood pressure. And in 2014, high blood pressure was the leading cause of death for 410,000 Americans.
In the U.S., there is a growing misconception that hypertension, or high blood pressure, is just a part of aging. In actuality, hypertension would be extremely uncommon if we changed our diets to include more plant-based foods. In a recent case study exploring the benefits of plant-based diets as a cost effective method of treating patients with high blood pressure, physicians concluded that "Healthy eating may be best achieved with a plant-based diet, which we define as a regimen that encourages whole, plant-based foods and discourages meats, dairy products, and eggs as well as all refined and processed foods." Another study conducted by the World Health Organization found that 78 percent of adults in South Africa had high blood pressure. This can be associated with the fact that this region of the world suffers from poor diet and lifestyle choices.
So how can you apply this research to your everyday life? It would be unrealistic to push for a fully vegan diet for everyone. Instead, take your current diet and mix it up with some veggies! Leafy raw vegetables, cooked vegetables or vegetable juice will do just the trick. Adding fruit, the darker kind, will also help. But adding all this goodness without taking some things out of your diet will result in additional calories that can prevent weight loss. Cut out meats and dairy products that are high in fat. Some common culprits include red meat, mayonnaise, cheese and salad dressing. Once you have your calories balanced you should be good to go!
One clinical study showed that after 7 days of a low-fat, plant-based diet people saw a significant drop in their blood pressure.
What does the American Heart Association have to say on all this? They too recommend a diet with low meat intake. They suggest using the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. It’s important to keep in mind that this is a 2000 calorie diet. In order to lose weight, you would have to scale it down based on your metabolic rate.
Getting used to your new diet may be challenging at first but your heart and your waistline will thank you!
DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)